Healthcare Design Book: To Include or Not to Include

March 28, 2012 at 4:04 pm 1 comment

A Visual Reference for Evidence-Based DesignI was enraged, I would say is not too strong a word, at seeing several very “bland” hospitals that had opened recently having spent all that money to create a stark environment, with all white walls and very little to provide a few moments of delight for anxious patients. In one of these hospitals touted as a “total healing environment,” the maternity unit did not look any different than the standard med/surg unit and there was nothing even in the baby nursery to cue this is where babies are born, to celebrate that event. So I was outraged and I started writing this as a manifesto to say, “This can’t go on; people have got to be aware of this and not let this keep happening.” This is a regression to pre-Planetree hospital aesthetics from the early 1980s.

As to what to include, I firmly believe that we need to pay more attention to areas where patients spend their time and where they are “captive.” As an outpatient, you can decide, for instance, if it’s a depressing experience, to go someplace else for care. But once you are admitted to a hospital for surgery or whatever your condition is, you are there and, in a sense, you’re a prisoner. You can’t just pick up and leave. This is where people are really vulnerable.

For 20 years, consultants have been predicting that outpatient care and the home are where it’s all going to happen and that hospitals are over-bedded, and they are building too many beds. But that hasn’t proven to be true. We still have a need for hospitals and every hospital is increasing, not decreasing, the number of beds that they had planned to build.

Therefore, I chose to place my focus where it had the most impact and this is acute care and specifically, areas where patients spend most of their time and that would be patient rooms, treatment areas, diagnostic procedures, the inpatient experience―there’s a very large section of the book (“A Visual Reference to Evidence-Based Design”) on inpatient unit design.

So that’s how I decided what to include and, as I said earlier, I had a circuitous path. I would run into something that a client might ask me about―an aspect of infection control for example―that sent me to research a topic and this would invariably lead to other fascinating issues. I went from one topic to another and then had to figure out how to make a logical book out of this and take readers on the journey with me.

(Excerpts from an interview with Healthcare Interior Design expert, Jain Malkin regarding her book, A Visual Reference for Evidence-Based Design, published by The Center for Health Design, 2008; View the video – Healthcare Construction – How did you decide what to include)


Entry filed under: Healthcare Design. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Writing a Hospital Design Book – The Journey of Discovery How is Evidence-Based Design Different from Research-Based Design?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Cameron Young  |  March 29, 2012 at 6:25 am

    At Nurture, we agree whole-heartedly. The environment in which care is provided has a HUGE impact on the healing process and the effectiveness of that care! For pediatric units before, we’ve taken our normal casegood products and made them for kid-friendly, with star cutouts and comforting lighting. It makes a big difference!


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